Mitigating a Christmas Tree Allergy

Learn to Recognize Christmas Tree Allergy Symptoms and How to Reduce Your Risk

If decorating for the holidays leaves you with a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes, or worse – a rash – you might have a Christmas tree allergy. The good news is there are ways to reduce your exposure to the things that make you sneeze without giving up festive greenery.

Can You Be Allergic to Christmas Trees?

While many people are allergic to tree pollen, winter is not the season for pollen allergies. No, most likely the symptoms you experience when putting up and decorating your tree – sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, etc. &nsash; are caused by mold and mold spores on the tree. Does that mean you need to ditch the evergreens? Not really. In fact, artificial greenery can cause similar symptoms. Here are some things you can do to limit your risk for Christmas tree allergies.

  • Clean your tree. Whether you love the smell of a real tree or like the ease of an artificial one, your tree is likely full of mold and dust. Both types require a little work before bringing them into your living area. Read our tips below for cleaning your greenery.
  • Store decorations wisely. Cardboard boxes do nothing to protect your ornaments, lights, and tinsel from dust, mold, and other allergens. Safeguard the twinkly things by keeping them in air-tight plastic storage containers, and make sure to wipe those containers down with a damp cloth before bringing them in from their storage area.
  • Protect your skin. If you tend to experience red, irritated skin after handling your tree, you may have a sensitive to any residual tree sap that's on the branches. Wear long sleeves and gloves to make sure you don't end up with an ugly, itchy rash.
  • Change your air filter. We say it over and over because it's true: a quality air filter with at least a MERV 8 rating is required to filter the mold, pollen, and dust mites from the air in your home. Changing your filters often ensures they'll capture whatever may be left on your tree and decorations once you bring them inside.

If you take these steps to reduce your risk for suffering a Christmas tree allergy and you still find yourself with respiratory symptoms, there may be something else going on in your home. Read our Helpful Tips for improving your indoor air quality during cold and flu season for more ideas.

How to Clean a Christmas Tree

  • Shake it off. If you buy a real tree from a seller that offers the service that shakes the old needles and dirt from the tree, take advantage of it. That's your first line of defense before bringing the tree home.
  • Spray it off. Before bringing your tree inside – real or artificial – give it a shower. Spray it down with the hose and wash the tree stand, and then allow it to dry before bringing it inside. (Note: if your artificial tree comes wired with lights, skip this step.)
  • Wipe it off. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the branches and remove any residual dust and mold. Now it's safe to bring it inside and make it sparkle!